Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) display an abbreviated cell cycle, resulting in a short doubling time and rapid proliferation. The histone variant H2A.X is critical for proliferation of stem cells, although mechanistic insights have remained obscure. Here, we show that H2A.X defines the rate of mouse ESC proliferation independently of the DNA damage response pathway, and it associates with three major chromatin-modifying complexes. Our functional and biochemical analyses demonstrate that H2A.X-associated factors mediate the H2A.X-dependent effect on ESC proliferation and involve the nucleolar remodeling complex (NoRC). A specific H2A.X deposition at rDNA promoters determines the chromatin recruitment of the NoRC, histone modifications, the rRNA transcription, and the rate of proliferation. Collectively, our results suggest that NoRC assembly by H2A.X deposition at rRNA promoters silences transcription, and this represents an important regulatory component for ESC proliferation. Histone variant H2A.X defines the rate of embryonic stem cell proliferation. Eleuteri et al. identify H2A.X-interacting proteins, and they show that H2A.X deposition at rDNA promoters assembles the NoRC, which represses rRNA transcription and determines the rate of self-renewal.
Eleuteri, B., Aranda, S., & Ernfors, P. (2018). NoRC Recruitment by H2A.X Deposition at rRNA Gene Promoter Limits Embryonic Stem Cell Proliferation. Cell Reports, 23(6), 1853–1866. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2018.04.023